This guest post is by Heather Jardine, talking about the fabulous high visibility initiatives she and her colleagues have implemented for the Bibliographical Services Section of the City of London Libraries. I this these are inspiring ideas, we’d love to hear anything you have to add:
If you are going to do a job at all, you should do it properly. So now that we have decided it is time to promote ourselves and what we do, we have thrown caution to the winds and we are trying almost everything.
We started with tours of the Bib Services Section, what we call “The Journey of the Book”, initially for new staff colleagues but now also for members of the public and for colleagues from other libraries (so now we have three “flavours” of tour – Staff Journey of the Book, Public Journey of the Book and Professional Journey of the Book). The content is essentially the same for all three, but the level of detail varies according to the audience. Fellow professionals always seem most interested in workflow and management issues, members of the public are always fascinated by the processing – all that stickyback plastic takes them back to Blue Peter and their younger days. Yes, it is a faff setting it all up, but we learn as much as our visitors do and almost always people are interested, engaged and persuaded that what we do is valuable and useful, which is enormously satisfying. And, you never know who is going to come through the door on a tour. It might be someone with influence to help us, or someone who will bring us work and income. We all need friends at the moment. We are beginning to think that marketing it as a “behind-the scenes” tour might get more custom – everyone likes to see what goes on out of public view, as the National Trust and many other heritage organisations realised long ago when they started opening kitchens and other below-stairs areas.
One thing leads to another, and because we were doing tours, we decided that we needed a leaflet to hand out both as publicity and as a souvenir in goody-bags.
And we thought that a big, bright, well-designed poster on the wall outside our office would tell people who we were and what we did (it helps that our office is across the lobby from the public toilets, so there are always people about).
After a while, we thought that having a video version of our “Journey of the Book” might bring it to a wider audience, so we made a film and put it up on YouTube. It’s doing OK for views, but we’d probably get more if we had included a skateboarding cat. Oh well, there’s always next time. (That’s one of the things you find out quite quickly – whatever publicity material you produce, you have to review and revise it surprisingly often.)
And we have a page “about” us within our catalogue, and on our Intranet too, of course.
But there is still more to do. Only the other day I was introduced by a colleague as, “This is Heather – she works in the basement”, as if that was the only interesting thing about me. So – what next? My own gut feeling is that Facebook is passé, but we might give it a try nonetheless. Then there is Twitter. I’ve got mixed feelings about Twitter, but I am slowly being persuaded that it can be a useful tool. “Bib Services: the musical”? Probably not.
Perhaps the most important thing to say, is that we started without any special skills or knowledge. We are not marketing professionals, or graphic designers. It’s been a huge learning curve. Maybe when we look back, we think of ways we could have done it better – but there is always next time. Meanwhile, we’ve got something out there. And if we can do it, so can you.
We’d like to hear what you think of what we’ve been doing and to learn from your experience too.
The blog: Work and expression
About us: The Bibliographical Services Section
Our new guest post is by Louise Anderson @LibrarianLCA about her work as Catalogue Librarian working to make the fascinating collections of Eton College Library more visible.
A new year at Eton College Library hopefully means a new (the first!) OPAC. This is very exciting for us after several years building up to the event. Electronic cataloguing started on the main library, housing pre-1800 materials, at the turn of the century and these are still being catalogued now. I was brought in just over three years ago to catalogue the 19th and 20th century printed materials and am still working on these. With this frenzied activity we have a respectable number of items catalogued with which to launch the OPAC.
This would have happened sooner but we seized the opportunity to piggy-back on the rest of the college collections’ change of management system. We have moved from Mikromarc to SSL (System Simulation Ltd.) and, not before time, from UKMARC to MARC 21. We have been working with other SSL users including the Royal Academy of Arts, for whom the system was devised, to optimise the usability and features and have
been able to tweak it in significant ways. When we are up and running, users will be able to search across the collections, many museum items will have images (hopefully this will be extended to books, mss., and archives), and within our records we can add links to webpages.
This has coincided with a drive to catalogue our literary archives and after researching embryonic GLAM guidelines and looking at records of literary archive holdings in other institutions – including the John Rylands University Library – we have decided to do this in the archival rather than the MARC cataloguing system, allowing us to add levels of detail when time and funding allows. We will still have MARC records with links to finding aids for archives that have already been listed, but this will be easy to copy into an archive system record if we wish to in the future. The decision was not straight forward; we may have to iron out issues with the separate authority files and the format of the data within, and if we ever want to put all library items on a different system the mapping would be difficult, however, the college should always have an archives system.
We have made the decision to continue to catalogue our individual literary mss. in MARC 21, including small groups of letters, drafts, etc., although there was much debate about when a group of mss. become an archive. Is it when they are by the same person in the same period of time, or when the letters are to the same person? Is it when the documents exceed a certain number even if there is not necessarily a subject shared? Or does it matter when in their history they were gathered together in one place? We decided there would be an element of cataloguer’s discretion, influenced by factors such as shared subject, place of production, volume, and if they had been collected together before they came to us. However, this is not yet set in stone and any suggestions would be very welcome!
Now for the fun bit. Our priorities regarding what to catalogue have been influenced mainly by use, retaining institutional knowledge, and what we wish to display in the public arena. Our literary archives have been, and are increasingly most likely to be, our high use items. Archives of Glen Byam Shaw, Wilfrid Blunt, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Thesiger, and David Horner/Osbert Sitwell fall into this category. Our individual literary mss. are also likely to be well used, and the knowledge about most of these rests with our Modern Collections Curator, which we need to capture electronically. I will hopefully be moving on to these very soon and I can’t wait to get my hands on mss. by Coleridge, Byron, Dickens, Browning, Bridges, and Fleming to name but a few. The same motivation will lead on to cataloguing the WWI materials that have been collected in addition to
those forming the original collection of the Macnaghten Library of WWI materials, given to Eton as a memorial in 1938. We will also need to know exactly what we have when we start curating our 2014 WWI exhibition. However, before all of this we need to finish cataloguing the items in our soon to be published “100 books and manuscripts” (working title) publication, which is a roundup of some of the stunning acquisitions of Eton College Library in the last 40 years, including a King James Bible, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s annotated Sophocles, and journals of Anne Thackeray Ritchie – just to whet the appetite.
Last week on Twitter, Deborah Lee of the Courtauld Institute of Art listed the “six amazing things” about being a cataloguer, taken from a presentation she had written to give to library school students. Here at HVCats, we loved these six amazing things and thought they deserved a wider audience.
What would your six amazing things be? And how do you describe being a cataloguer when training a new member of staff or talking to students and others new to the library world?
Guest post: On Open Days : showing library staff what actually goes on in your cataloguing department! – Lynne Dyer, Bibliographic Services Manager.
We are pleased to host this post by Lynne Dyer about raising the profile of a cataloguing team through open days. Lynne was inspired to write this after reading Rachel Care’s post earlier this week. Please add your thoughts in the comments box below.
On Open Days – showing library staff what actually goes on in your cataloguing department!
Lynne Dyer, Bibliographic Services Manager, De Montfort University
Many years ago, the Cataloguing and Acquisitions teams were based in a different building from the rest of the library, across the road in a fairly basic office. Logistically, this posed several major problems; adding at least an extra 24 hours to the order to shelf time; increasing the time taken for staff to get from one building to another to undertake their library duties (like, counter, enquiry desk, shelving and shelf-checking sessions); rendering two senior staff unavailable to participate in the duty manager rota (as the duty manager deals with library security incidents and fire alarms / bomb alerts and needs to be on the spot), to name but a few.
Some of the advantages were that cataloguers were not disturbed by other library staff coming into the office to look at items in the backlog (!), but the corollary of this was that we were quite isolated from mainstream library activities, staff from the team were not always known by their colleagues in the library and few other library staff had any knowledge of the work processes in the acquisitions and cataloguing teams.
In order to address some of these issues, I organised a series of what I called Open Days. An invitation was issued to all members of the library staff to come and see what went on in the cataloguing team. It had been originally planned that the Open Day would cover both the work of Acquisitions and Cataloguing but this proved impractical to organise so was restricted to the work of Cataloguing. Within the team, a member of staff was assigned to demonstrate each process to the visitors, showing them what was done, how it was done and to answer any questions the visitors might have. Sessions were scheduled to last up to 15 minutes each, and were sequential, so visitors would start with the ordering process, move on to receipting, to cataloguing, to classification etc..
Publicising the Event
The whole event was marketed by a snail mail shot to all library staff which included a “personal” invitation (see Appendix A below). This invitation was also used as an A3 poster displayed on the various library staff noticeboards. No-one was chased or hounded to come, the sessions were in no way compulsory; it was assumed that anyone who didn’t reply would not be coming.
We were hugely surprised by the amount of take-up we had! So many people wanted to come and see what we did that we had to arrange three groups, the first starting at 9.30am, the second at 10am and the third at 10.30am, which would allow for any session running over time. Once we knew exactly who was attending we allocated them to a specific group and sent them a timetable. (see Appendix B and Appendix C)
Easing the Stress of the Staff
The majority of cataloguing and acquisitions staff had never taken part in any such event previously and were quite unsure and worried about how to present their work to colleagues. In truth, some were quite terrified. In order to help them feel more relaxed about it and better prepared, a briefing session was held at which staff could air their concerns and one or two pointers could be given to them:
- Know exactly what you’re going to say, even if you have it all written out on a crib sheet!
- Have all your examples sorted and ready to use
- Try out your presentation on a team colleague first
- Wear something you feel comfortable in – it will help you feel confident!
- If people ask questions, answer them as best you can. If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t and offer to find out the answer later, or refer them to someone else who might know the answer
- If you feel that questions or comments are being made that seem to criticise you or your working practices then say that this is not an appropriate time for such a discussion and suggest that the questioner addresses their queries to me, the team manager
- Remember that you know your job inside out, upside down and back-to-front, so you’re the one in control.
The Open Day
Generally, staff were well-prepared for their demonstrations, some had written notes, others had done a practice demo to a cataloguing or acquisitions colleague etc. so when the time came to share their tasks with other library staff they were very well able to do this.
On the day, naturally, some sessions overran, and some were a tad shorter than anticipated, but on the whole timings were kept to (see Appendix C). If I remember correctly, it did become necessary to take a couple of sessions out of turn, just so that the groups didn’t overlap. Also, as an organiser, I did notice that one or two people didn’t attend every demo they were scheduled to, but that was probably a good thing, as they could concentrate on the things that interested them most, or fitted in with some of what they themselves did. Doing the demos was a very intensive time, however, with each person doing three demos in quite a short space of time, so everyone was drained by the end.
Getting the Feedback
In order to gauge how successful the event had been, each attendee completed a feedback form, which asked them to comment on certain aspects of the day (see Appendix D). This feedback was to help us, when planning any subsequent event, to provide a better experience. Pleasingly, the response rate was 75%, and the majority of these comments indicated that people found the sessions useful, that the format was right, and that they were happy to see everything. The best things seemed to be:
- Seeing the whole process through and how it fitted together and where it fitted into the roles of the attendees
- The Open Day taking place!
- That each session was informative
- Group size was good
- The great reception received from the Cataloguing staff
Things that could have been done better included:
- The timings – some demos were too long
- The content – some demos were trying to convey complex ideas and processes in too short a time
- A tea break scheduled in
- More time for questions and answers
- More time for a general wander around the office
All these comments were useful and were taken on board when we ran our next set of Open Days.
Subsequent Open Days
The success of that first Cataloguing Team Open Day led other teams to try the same format, so very soon, nearly everyone in the library knew what went on in all parts of the library and such understanding led to better working relationships across the service.
For a couple of years, the Open Day became on annual event, although numbers dwindled, as the staff turnover here has never been high. After the initial Open Day the itinerary was tweaked a bit, timings were modified, a tea break included and some demos removed, in line with the suggestions we had received on the feedback forms.
Having let these sessions lapse, we reinstated them, with a slightly different focus, so people were invited to discover a specific aspect of the cataloguing and acquisitions role, e.g. following the trail of a book order, from order to shelf, following the trail of a serial through the team, and groupings of other, supplementary activities that the teams undertook, for example, the project to get exam papers digitised (see Appendix E). In addition to the revised “routes”, the reverse of the itinerary included a list of all members of the team, their telephone extension number, their email address, and a list of areas in which they were experts. This was headed:
Get the right person – get the right answer!
On the day, each section – e.g. Cat / Class, Serials, Local Inputting etc. – had a banner hanging over their work area to direct people to the sections they were interested in visiting.
Extending the Model
On a more local level, we have also used the same Open Day style to alert people in the team to how their role fits into the role of the team as a whole, so staff were invited to demonstrate their tasks to others in the team. This has led to a more flexible team; people became aware of what else was happening in the team, so they were able to identify areas where they could help out. But, more on this in a future post!
Lynne Dyer, June 2011
“Now what did I do with that book order?
Oh yes, I sent it over to the X building …”
From the black hole that is the X building,
home of the Acquisitions and Cataloguing teams,
we offer you the chance to find you exactly what
happened to your order and how it transmuted
into an entry on OPAC!
See ordering, cataloguing, processing and other
fascinating tasks in action during a fun-packed
O P E N D A Y
Day: [Day, Date]
Venue: Building X, Rm 2.12
Time: 9.30 onwards
Your personal invitation
Dear ………………………………………………. You are invited to our Open Day.
I am / am not * able to come to your Open Day
*Please delete as appropriate and return to Lynne Dyer
Cataloguing Team, X Building, Rm 2.12
Response to those expressing an interest
OPEN DAY – [Date]
Thank-you to all of you who said you would like to come to our open day. I have divided you into three groups and the following people are in each group.
Please come over to Building X, Room 2.12 and report to the reception desk in time to begin your tour at the appointed time!
Anyone who said they could only come for some of the time, if you still want to come, just join the people in the group that suits you best.
Please let me know if you have any problems with the timetable.
Many thanks. We hope you enjoy your visit!
OPEN DAY – [Date]
9.30 Introduction (staff initials)
9.45 Book orders onto the LMS (staff initials)
9.55 Role of the bookshop (staff initials)
10.05 Receipting (staff initials)
10.15 Dealing with duplicates etc. (staff initials)
10.25 Original works cat/class (staff initials)
10.35 Subject indexing (staff initials)
10.45 Inputting local information (staff initials)
10.55 Processing / jacketing / labelling (staff initials)
11.05 Checking / boxing up (staff initials)
11.15 Any questions (staff initials)
10.00 Introduction (staff initials)
10.15 Book orders onto the LMS (staff initials)
10.25 Role of the bookshop (staff initials)
10.35 Receipting (staff initials)
10.45 Dealing with duplicates etc. (staff initials)
10.55 Original works cat/class (staff initials)
11.05 Subject indexing (staff initials)
11.15 Inputting local information (staff initials)
11.25 Processing / jacketing / labelling (staff initials)
11.35 Checking / boxing up (staff initials)
11.45 Any questions (staff initials)
10.30 Introduction (staff initials)
10.45 Book orders onto the LMS (staff initials)
10.55 Role of the bookshop (staff initials)
11.05 Receipting (staff initials)
11.15 Dealing with duplicates etc. (staff initials)
11.25 Original works cat/class (staff initials)
11.35 Subject indexing (staff initials)
11.45 Inputting local information (staff initials)
11.55 Processing / jacketing / labelling (staff initials)
12.05 Checking / boxing up (staff initials)
12.15 Any questions (staff initials)
Cataloguing Team Open Day [Date]
Feedback form – in order to help us plan our next session. All replies will be kept confidential.
Did you find today’s sessions useful / helpful?
Was the format of the morning right for you?
Would you have preferred to choose which demos you came to?
What was the best thing about the morning?
What could have been done better?
Thank-you for your time.
Please hand this completed form in as you leave or send it to: Lynne D, Building X, Rm 2.12
Cataloguing Team Open Morning
The morning will begin with a tour of the department to see the progress of a book order from the time it is received in the team to the time the actual book leaves the office. You will then be able to pick which aspects of the team’s work you learn more about by choosing specific areas to visit. Below are some suggested combinations that will give you an overview of the team’s work.
The Basic Book Route
If you want to know more about the basic process for books, follow this suggested route:
¨ Local inputting
¨ Final checking
The Enhanced Book Route
Add-ons to the Basic Book Route could include:
¨ Duplicates, new editions, urgents and freebies
¨ Subject indexing
The Serials Route
If you want to know more about the cataloguing of journals try the following:
The Homemade Route
If you just want to see one or two aspects of our work feel free to make up your own route, or just come down and ask questions of anyone in the team – if they can’t answer your question, they will know someone who will be able to!
We hope you enjoy your visit.
PS The Exam Paper Route is unavailable for this session, but we hope to run something specifically on this once term has begun.
We’re delighted to host this inspiring guest post from Rachel Care. We’d love to hear your ideas, suggestions, and thoughts on this in comments below!
High Visibility Cataloguing: Join a Committee!
Rachel Care, Metadata Librarian, University of Warwick
The cataloguing department at the University of Warwick – aka Data Services – wasn’t feeling very visible. At the beginning of this year all Library teams were asked to present a review of the Library structure, and how they felt they were engaging with other teams. However, not many teams referred to Data Services in their presentations, and when we were mentioned, it was to suggest that another department would like to move into our offices! And then, all our stationery suddenly disappeared – it was believed we no longer had any need for it. An emergency meeting was called. It was time to take action.
The team had various ideas as to how we could make ourselves more visible within the Library. It was suggested we could wander round the different floors occasionally. We decided to try and submit a piece of news to the weekly staff e-bulletin as often as we could. And we decided that we needed a member of the team on every committee in the Library.
My contribution was to join the Staff Liaison Group. A key committee within the Library, the group acts as an intermediary between staff and senior management, as well as a sounding board for ideas, comments and questions from Library staff. Joining the committee has presented some excellent opportunities to get Data Services known.
First of all, I helped with a project to create an online staff photo board. I presented at the all-staff open meeting, and then liaised with managers in the Library, in order to get all members of staff to write a sentence describing their job. This meant Library staff, particularly managers, became aware of me, and aware that I do more than just
Then, directly because of this work getting myself known, Data Services were one of a few teams asked to prepare a display board to be erected at the next staff open day. This is a really excellent opportunity for us to explain what we do, and how vital our work is to the running of the Library. We’re planning to have statistics showing just how many books and e-resources we catalogue every week; to display the differences we are going to have to deal with when we come to use RDA; to have a section showing a badly constructed record, and how that would affect a student’s ability to find a book on the catalogue; and to describe some of the complexities of the numerous classification schemes we use at Warwick.
Getting away from my everyday cataloguing once in a while, and throwing myself into wider library life, has helped my confidence, it’s made me feel much more a part of the library in which I work, and, I hope, has gone a little way towards getting Data Services more known and appreciated. I heartily recommend it!
Catch Rachel @metadatamonkey on Twitter!
As part of my role in this initiative I have reviewed some literature surrounding the ongoing debate between the implementation of RDA and a much bigger leap into the future by the cataloguing world. Read the article here and all comments would be added value to HVCats.
The introduction of manholes to student orientation at the University of Warwick Library
I became involved in the “Check it Out!” student orientation programme when the Enquiries Support Officer gave a presentation on the project to other staff. Check It Out sessions were split into two parts: 1. a quick tour of the main facilities, including rules and regulations, lost and found, where to get help, how to use the self issue/return machines; and 2. a screen-based presentation on using the catalogue to find things. The previous year, the presentation was centred around the record for a book called Biochemistry, which was a good, comprehensive and rather dry example of a library record.
I offered to create a bespoke record that would fulfil all the requirements of the presentation (for example, multiple locations and multiple loan types) as well as highlighting the extra functionalities of the catalogue (such as book cover display and citation information, which previously were not demonstrated. This would allow us to create a fun, interesting record that could be introduced to science, arts and social science students, and we could add everything we wanted to talk about to this one record, which could then be suppressed when not needed. In the end, the record was crafted around a real book: Drainspotting: Japanese manhole covers, which provided great scope for humour and subject headings in equal measure. The title was also misleading, allowing opportunity to highlight to students that the title was not the only information contained in the record.
Also included in the session was a serial record, and a brief introduction to electronic resources. This section was based around the New Scientist journal, and was judged suitable for all students.
In support of this presentation, and the tour of facilities that preceded it, I was also involved in creating staff training materials in a variety of formats, so that all staff could present the information consistently, and would have detailed information to fall back on if required. Videos of mock presentations were loaded onto the staff intranet to show other staff members the general procedure (and that presentations did not have to be perfect!)
I also helped to train colleagues to give the presentation and tour to students. 32 members of staff from across all library teams volunteered to deliver sessions and came to the training. Many of the staff training sessions ended with an informal question and answer session that allowed staff to ask questions about the catalogue, staff comments later indicated that it was a great opportunity to hear about the catalogue from a different point of view.
Finally, in the hectic first weeks of term, I also presented to the students themselves. This was the only opportunity over the past year for specialist cataloguers to come into contact with large numbers of library users and it also allowed students to encounter staff they normally wouldn’t see. Feedback from those who attended Check It Out was over 90% positive.
Overall, it was an excellent opportunity to show both users and colleagues the things that we could do with the catalogue, and the huge range of information it contains. It was also a step towards raising the profile of the cataloguing team by getting involved in a large library-wide project.
Before Christmas, we received a document on the role of the cataloguer in the 21st century from Lynne Dyer, Bibliographic Services Team Manager, De Montfort University. We felt it spoke about many of the issues about the current state of the profession and the future for cataloguing and cataloguers, and so we are very pleased to post it on the High Visibility Cataloguing website. Thanks to Lynne for letting us publish it. We would love to hear any thoughts you have about the role of the cataloguer as it is likely to develop so please do add them in the comments.
Lynne wrote the piece a couple of years ago and so has added the following updating information (you might want to go and read the article and come back to this afterwards):
Since this article was written there has been much in the professional press about the changing role of cataloguers, particularly in these economically difficult times. Of especial relevance was the article by David Bennett (2009a), which tackled the idea of seeking new avenues for “back room” staff, and the follow-up blog article (2009b) which concentrated on the marketing of “back room” staff and their activities. In her article Kealy (2009) discusses the importance of identifying skills gaps in her library service with a view to ensuring that all library staff (not just cataloguers) have the skills needed for the future. Further enhancements of the cataloguer’s role are suggested by Meagher and Brown (2009).
The value of social tagging has been the subject of enormous debate, as has the development of new generation OPACs and resource discovery systems, all areas where the expertise of the cataloguers can be tapped into. Electronic resource management, usage statistics, digital preservation and the digitising of educational resources are also areas in which cataloguers can prove use their skills.
More recently, Harris and Carty (2010) have striven to improve the general awareness of what cataloguers can do and how they can help develop library services of the 21st century. Their joint High-Visibility Cataloguing blog (2010) is an attempt to both promote and raise the profile of the role of cataloguers to library staff in general and to encourage cataloguers to emerge from their “back rooms” to help provide a dynamic and valued library service.
1. Bennett, David E. (2009) Where next for the back room? Gazette, 11-24 September, pp. 19
2. Bennett, David E. (2009) Principles of assertive action: how to go about getting what you want. Philoslibris [WWW] David E. Bennett. Available from: http://philoslibris.wordpress.com/ [Accessed: 20 December 2010].
3. Kealy, Karen (2009) Do library staff have what it takes to be a librarian of the future? Library Management, Vol. 30, No. 8/9, pp. 572-582
4. Meagher, Elizabeth S. and Brown, Christopher C. (2009) Turned loose in the OPAC: URL selection, addition, and management process. Library Hi Tech, Vol. 28, Iss. 3, pp. 360 – 376
5. Harris, Venessa and Carty, Celine (2010) Show and tell. Gazette, 2 December, pp. 15
6. Harris, Venessa and Carty, Celine (2010) High visibility cataloguing [WWW] Venessa Harris and Celine Carty. Available from: https://highvisibilitycataloguing.wordpress.com/ [Accessed: 20 December 2010]